Prostate Cancer Diagnosis and Prostate Biopsies
Cancer is an emotive word and anxiety about prostate cancer is understandable however, unlike many other cancers, prostate cancer is slow-growing. Most men will have evidence of prostate cancer by the time they reach their 80s. Treatments at this stage aim to control rather than cure the disease. Prostate cancer when identified early at a localised stage is curable. The critical thing to determine is the aggressive potential for the disease in each individual.
A man may be suspected to be at risk for a prostate cancer diagnosis following a routine health screen which has shown an abnormally elevated PSA blood test. This may have been combined with a digital rectal examination (DRE) which indicated an abnormal prostate. Alternatively, an abnormal PSA or prostate examination may have been discovered during the routine investigation of lower urinary tract symptoms or erectile dysfunction. An abnormal PSA test or DRE does not necessarily mean a diagnosis of prostate cancer in all cases. The tests are prostate specific, they are not prostate cancer specific. Prostate cancer can only be diagnosed following pathological examination of a section of the prostate (removal of cores of tissue from the prostate) by way of a prostate biopsy.